Good evening from Vancouver, where I've landed at the Summer Olympics.
At least it feels that way. Maybe Spring Olympics, but hardly wintry. Fifty degrees, not a cloud in the sky and no hint of snow. There's a seaplane taking off in front of the Chevron gas island, which is in front of Stanley Park.
Flew out here this morning with veteran Olympics writer Rachel Blount, basically so she can hold my hand and show me the ropes.
Customs -- I felt like I was partaking in the biggest scam in the world. I remember when I covered the NHL Draft here a few years back and the NHL All-Star Game in 1998, and customs took about an hour to hour-and-a-half. Here I'm covering a worldwide sporting event, and customs took two minutes thanks to that handy Olympics credential I've got.
Quick shuttle to the hotel, quick check-in, quick bus to the train station, quick train ride, and before I knew it, I was walking around downtown Vancouver -- my favorite North American city.
On the train ride down, a college kid saw my credential, and he happens to be taking part in Friday's Opening Ceremonies. He told me Justin Morneau's mother used to be his teacher, and how Morneau used to come to class all the time when he was in the Twins farm system. He said he now wishes he took better advantage of that experiencing considering he had no idea Justin Morneau would become Justin Morneau.
Then, on the busy street, I ran into the Vancouver Sun's Iain MacIntyre, who was doing some TV interview because he's a bigwig, and Calgary Herald's George Johnson, who apparently isn't a bigwig because he couldn't pick up his credential because somehow his birth date was wrong. I walked into the grand media center, and I felt like I was covering the Stanley Cup Finals. Canadian hockey writer/columnist greats everywhere, from Edmonton Sun's Terry Jones, Edmonton Journal's Dan Barnes to Vancouver Province's Ed Willies to Vancouver Sun's Cam Cole to Ottawa Sun's Chris Stevenson.
The media center is gorgeous. It's basically the cruise terminal.
It looks over the International Broadcasting Center, which I watched being constructed from my hotel (when I travel with the Wild) for the last three or four years.
Things start to get real busy tomorrow when I cover press conference after press conference. I'll be the luge writer this weekend, as I get to do a feature on local luge stud Tony Benshoof and cover his Saturday and perhaps Sunday runs.
Women's hockey starts Sunday when the U.S. takes on China, and all the men's teams start practicing Monday.
Lastly, here's my new friend. I named him Jacques.